The Veterans Defense Project mourns the passing of Washington County Attorney, Peter Orput. Mr. Orput was an invaluable member of the Project’s Board of Directors. Mr. Orput was also instrumental in guiding and passing the Veterans Restorative Justice Act. He spent hours both testifying at the legislature and building consensus with the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association and other criminal justice stakeholders to see the Veterans Restorative Justice Act become law. Thanks in part to Mr. Orput’s efforts, the VRJA became law in August of 2021.

Mr. Orput’s work with the VDP did not end with the passage of the VRJA. He continued his work by training the state’s prosecutors on the logic and the mechanics of the VRJA. He was an active and vocal member of our board until his passing. And his tireless efforts occurred both while he managed a county attorney’s office and dealt with his health issues.

Please join us as we mourn the passing of our beloved colleague, friend, United States Marine and advocate. Semper Fidelis.


The Minnesota Legislature passed the VRJA on June 30, 2021 and signed it as part of the Omnibus State Government Policy and Finance bill. Click here to read our statement about the new law.


Promoting the effective and vigorous defense of Military Veterans in criminal court.





Restoring veterans involved in the criminal justice system to the communities they served.


A culturally competent criminal justice system that ensures veterans get the holistic services and supports they have earned to help them succeed in the communities they served.

Defending veterans can be among the most rewarding experiences a defense attorney can have.

We can help repay our nation’s debt to these heroes for their services and sacrifice.

The VDP will continue to ensure our veterans receive as vigorous a defense in the courtroom as they provide our nation on the battlefield.



Noteworthy news stories that promote public awareness about recent or important events that relate to the Veterans Defense Project and the rehabilitation of criminally-involved veterans.

Serving Those Who Served: Veterans Get Mentorship Training In NE Philly

Veterans who have struggled since returning from the battlefield don’t have to look far for a helping hand. Their fellow former soldiers are being trained as mentors during a two-day “boot camp” in Northeast Philadelphia. These volunteers know what it’s like — they’ve been there.

Veterans court gives vets charged with crimes second chance

When Ryan Harbaugh of Old Forge returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2011, the substance abuse problem that plagued him most of his adult life escalated. Unable to cope with the stress of returning to civilian life, the 31-year-old Army veteran said he drowned his problems with alcohol. He’s not alone. …

CTN Spotlight: Veterans Court Celebrates 5 Years in Anoka County

Veterans Court was introduced to Anoka County in November of 2012, and since then, over 30 graduates have successfully completed the program.

St. Cloud Times Recognizes Brock Hunter for his Work with Veterans in the Criminal Justice System

Horrific battlefield injuries — physical and mental. Frustrating struggles for medical care of those injuries months and years after military discharge. Families, relationships, and civilian lives changed forever. And stunning numbers of veterans contemplating suicide, to say nothing of the 686 veterans of all ages in Minnesota who did end their own lives between 2007…

Veterans praise Ramsey County veterans court as life-changing

Eleven years ago, Charles King returned home from an Army deployment in Iraq angry and wary of the world and people around him. The distance between the combat mechanic and the rest of the world widened until he landed in Ramsey County District Court in 2013 for a domestic incident. The timing was fortuitous —…

Treatment court gives veterans stability, sobriety and a second chance

David Belcher returned from the Iraq war broken. The platoon sergeant suffered a traumatic brain injury when four guys beat him up with a tire iron and suffered from post-traumatic stress after an officer in his command who was a good friend was killed. He started having seizures and started taking prescription drugs. Depressed and…

The attorney’s guide to defending veterans in criminal court


For as long as warriors have returned from battle, some have brought their war home with them, bearing invisible wounds that haunt in the present. These echoes of war—manifested in self-destructive, reckless, and violent behavior—reverberate through society, destroying not only the lives of these heroes, but their families and communities.